Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement.

the invocationsFive women murdered, no evidence left behind and the police have no leads. Jude is the estranged daughter of the wealthy Wolf family, money isn’t an issue for her, she just needs to find a way our of the deal she’s struck with the demon now tethered to her soul. She hopes the dead women will lead her to someone who can help. Zara’s sister was the killer’s first victim and she’s been tracking the murders too. She doesn’t just want answers, she wants someone who can bring her sister back from the dead. What both women need is a cursewriter.

A girl walks home alone, but not alone.

Krystal Sutherland had a lot to live up to after House of Hollow, and while The Invocations wasn’t quite as good, it was still suitably dark and creepy. When I picked this up, I expected it the magic to be a bit more prevalent in the world, but it’s more of a secret and rare thing. That’s no bad thing, I loved how different the magic system was.

To gain magic, a woman must make a deal with a demon, the details of the curse tattooed to their skin by a cursewriter. Their magic isn’t limitless, each curse can give one ability. They must choose wisely. Only women can have magic, because demons won’t make deals with men, they don’t want to tether themselves to them, even if mortal lives are short.

Men cannot use magic. This is what she has been told. This is what she has been promised. Men cannot write spells. Men cannot sear invocations into their skin. Men cannot bind their souls to demons in exchange for power. Men cannot use magic.

Jude’s leg is literally rotting, the result of a carelessly written curse before she knew magic was really real. In a bid to lessen her pain, she’s made bargains with other demons, but what she needs is a proper cursewriter to sort the mess out. Her once opulent house is now decaying, like her body, dank with mould and the stench of demons. They won’t let her rest quietly. Her side of the story comes with a big dose of body horror, if her wound wasn’t magical she’d certainly be dead.

Zara’s life couldn’t be more different, her family all gone except for the uncle who begrudgingly houses her, who looks through her stuff, takes her money. She doesn’t quite feel safe in his home. Once a star pupil, her grades have been failing since her sister died, all her focus going into finding if necromancy is real. It must be, otherwise her sister is really gone.

Both their investigations lead them to each other, and to the business card of Emer Byrne. Cursewriter.

Jude has gone from the utter depths of loneliness and despair to having two people in her car in the space of a day. Two very annoying people, but two people nonetheless.

Intriguing mystery, great pacing and a dark atmosphere. I found Zara a little on the annoying side with her single-minded pursuit of necromancy, like has she not seen Buffy? However, she felt like she was the younger of group so could be forgiven. I really liked Jude as a character, and I usually hate rich kids.

It’s a story of violence against women, of the entitlement of those who have it all already, but it’s also a story of found family, of finding friendship in the darkest places. People who won’t judge the stink of sulphur that follows you around, and demons that aren’t as bad as they seem.

The Invocations is published by Hot Key Books and will be available in paperback, ebook and audiobook editions from 30th January 2024. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

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